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McJobs worth more than university

Published on: 20 Apr 2007 13:10 CET

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A new report - commissioned by McDonalds - has shown that 59 percent of personnel managers consider the experience gained from a job with the global fast food chain more beneficial than a term spent studying political science.

Pollster Sifo asked a total of 200 personnel managers and over 1,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 about the importance of gaining a foothold in the labour market.

Personnel managers (59 percent) and young people (47 percent) both said they valued a job at McDonalds more highly than a term spent studying political science at a third level institution.

The managers surveyed were overwhelmingly in favour of young people finding their way into the labour market at the earliest possible opportunity: 85 percent said that job seekers had satisfactory levels of education but lacked practical experience; 91 percent believed that a lack of work experience made it more difficult for many young people to get a job.

Albin Kainelainen, an economist at trade union confederation LO, acknowledges that youth unemployment is high in Sweden and identifies two central problems that need to be tackled.

"Firstly there is a problem with the education system, both at the gymnasium and university levels.

"There are too few young people going into vocational training to become carpenters, healthcare workers and so on," Kainelainen told The Local.

He also noted that many people are going into the wrong type of university education as far as jobs are concerned, with political science courses serving as a case in point.

"The second problem is that of wages. Are they too high?

"We do not believe that to be the case. The majority of young people can get jobs. Any lowering of wages would affect a very large group.

"Maybe one needs to look at the wage cost, in terms of social charges for example, and see if it might be possile to introduce an employment subsidy for those who have problems getting work," he said.

LO has strong ties with the Social Democrats and its recommendations often dovetail with those of the current opposition. With this in mind, how does Albin Kainelainen view the performance of the current centre-right government with regard to creating work for young people?

"The current government won't solve the youth unemployment problem.

"They have only one method, which involves lowering wages and using the stick rather than encouraging young people to acquire the capabilities they need to perform well on the labour market," he said.

Paul O'Mahony(paul.omahony@thelocal.com)